Biosecurity measures to protect pigeons from avian paramyxovirus
Avian paramyxovirus (APMV1) is a notifiable disease
If you suspect APMV1, contact Biosecurity Queensland immediately on 13 25 23 or the Emergency Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.
Avian paramyxovirus type 1 in pigeons was first detected in Australia in August 2011 and appears to have become established in Victoria.
Since May 2012, it has also been confirmed in a number of flocks in New South Wales.
It is likely to eventually affect pigeons in Queensland.
Pigeon owners' primary defence against avian paramyxovirus is to prevent the introduction of disease into their flock and into Queensland.
There is currently no registered vaccine for use in pigeons in Australia.
Vaccinating pigeons with Newcastle disease vaccine provides an adjunct to biosecurity in minimising the potential impact of spread of infection. Biosecurity Queensland urges pigeon keepers to discuss vaccination options with their private veterinarian.
Preventing the introduction of infection means being vigilant in ensuring that infection does not enter in birds or eggs, on equipment and fittings, on a person´s body or clothing, in feed, water or manure, by bird-to-bird contact through enclosure fences, in loft-flying, or at races or shows.
There are several key elements to preventing the spread of avian paramyxovirus:
- Do not bring pigeons, pigeon eggs or fittings used with pigeons into Queensland from Victoria or New South Wales. This is currently prohibited, although the Queensland Government is working towards repealing those restrictions by mid-December 2012.
- Before introducing pigeons from any other jurisdiction, check whether avian paramyxovirus is known to occur and whether there are any restrictions in place.
- Organisers of pigeon events should apply appropriate biosecurity measures to minimise the likelihood and impacts of avian paramyxovirus at pigeon gatherings. A protocol requiring all entries to have been fully vaccinated in accordance with veterinary advice and accompanied by an owner declaration that the flock of origin has been free from disease for the preceding two weeks is suggested.
- If it is necessary to introduce new birds into the loft from anywhere, only use reputable sources and check their health and vaccination status. Then isolate them to a quarantine area separate from the loft, and monitor their health daily for at least 14 days before allowing them contact with the loft.
- Feed and clean quarantined birds after other birds have been tended.
- Prevent contact with wild birds, pet birds and poultry, and with equipment, food, water or wastes that may have had contact with those birds.
- Ensure that water and feed supplies are not exposed to wild birds or other pests.
- Practice good hygiene when entering the loft. Wash hands and face with soap and water, and ensure clothes have not been in contact with any other birds.
- Do not attend bird shows or races unless the event has strict biosecurity standards in place to prevent the entry of sick birds. If you do attend bird shows or races, practise good hygiene and quarantine when you go home.
- Limit visitors to the loft and ensure they meet good hygiene standards.
- Keep the loft and equipment clean. Regularly remove litter, and clean and disinfect walls, floors, nesting boxes, feed and water containers.
- Inspect all birds at least daily.
- Be especially vigilant if you suspect that birds, equipment or people have been exposed to infection.
- Any suspicion of avian paramyxovirus, sudden illness or deaths of large numbers of pigeons must immediately be investigated and reported.
Pigeon owners are strongly advised to implement biosecurity measures to prevent the introduction of avian paramyxovirus.
Vaccination may assist in mitigating the risk and impact of disease spread within pigeon flocks and lofts.
If there are unusual signs in pigeons or other birds, or a number die within a short time, immediately seek veterinary advice and report the incident to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 (business hours) or the Emergency Animal Disease Watch hotline on 1800 675 888 (after hours).